Milestones May 8, 2006

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DIED. John Kenneth Galbraith, 97, best-selling Harvard economist and unabashed liberal who spent his career fighting "conventional wisdom," a phrase he coined in 1958; in Cambridge, Mass. At 6 ft. 8 in., he was--quite literally--a big thinker. In his examination of the intertwining of economics and politics, he once termed America a "democracy of the fortunate," and his ideas underpinned Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program. He was known for his witty, often acerbic directness, once noting, "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." The concepts in his watershed book, The Affluent Society, became so pervasive that to subsequent generations of readers, "It's like reading Hamlet and deciding it's full of quotations," said Nobel-laureate economist Amartya Sen. "You realize where they came from."

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